Normal view MARC view ISBD view

Zen and the city of angels /

by Cosin, Elizabeth M.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: New York : St. Martin's Minotaur, 1999Edition: 1st ed.Description: viii, 280 p. ; 25 cm.ISBN: 0312206119 :.Title notes: c.1 $23.95 2-2000Subject(s): Private investigators -- California -- Los Angeles -- Fiction | Women detectives -- California -- Los Angeles -- Fiction | Show dogs -- California -- Los Angeles -- Fiction | Murder -- California -- Los Angeles -- Fiction | Los Angeles (Calif.) -- Fiction | Detective and mystery stories
Series information: Click to open in new window
    average rating: 0.0 (0 votes)
Item type Home library Collection Shelving location Call number Status Date due Barcode
Books Books Altadena Main Library
Adult Collection Adult Mystery M COS Available 39270001908056

Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

Los Angeles P.I. Zen Moses is asked to do a simple favor for her sometime boss, Attorney James Gray. All she and her partner have to do is find a missing dog.<p>Things turn ugly when Zen wakes up next to a corpse in a posh Santa Monica home. Then she's caught in a highspeed freeway chase. When she's implicated in a murder she didn't commit, things really start to head downhill. With a band of corrupt cops ready to put her away, Zen's got to do some fast talking, and even faster thinking, to keep herself out of harm's way.

c.1 $23.95 2-2000

Excerpt provided by Syndetics

<opt> <anon I1="BLANK" I2="BLANK">Chapter One Earthquakes scare the hell out of me. It's not so much the shaking. Or even the noise, which during significant quakes is like a steam engine bearing through every living room, breaking china, everywhere, all at once.     It's knowing that nothing, not even the ground you're standing on, is solid enough to keep from breaking apart at any moment. The revelation that there are greater forces at work every second of every day tearing down what you and every person who ever lived spent building up.     The funny thing is I never think about this while my world is shaking to bits, or even after it brings a whole damned city to its knees, making nervous wrecks out of even the most grounded among us. It only comes to me when I'm working a case, mired in the muck of some poor slob's personal trash heap, trying to make sense of why people who live such tenuous existences do such horrible things to each other.     And why knowing this doesn't make them try any harder to keep from falling between the cracks.     Some cases remind me of this more than others. Like this one. Here I was slumped low in the driver's seat of a nondescript rental car on the last legs of a September evening, mainlining Jamaica Mountain from a Thermos and listening to Albert King's blues, trying to remember what had led me here. I was on a stakeout, a stakeout for a fucking dog. * * * It all started with a favor. Come to think of it, everything bad in my life has started with a favor. Maybe it's the burden of being a private eye or maybe it's just because deep down I'm nothing like I pretend to be, a hard ass with gun.     Truth is when I let my guard down, I'm a sucker of mammoth proportions. It's a quality I hate even more than my eyes, two green-colored traitors, ready to betray my innermost feelings at the most inappropriate moment. Problem is I have no control over any of it.     I've always had jobs that trade on favors. When I was a sportswriter, it came in the form of swapping information and I find it's been good practice for my present profession. But there are all kinds of favors. Some carry more weight than others and require a greater investment of yourself. The kind you do because at the end of the day, you understand there is no choice. All you can do then is hope you survive it.     Two weeks ago, James Leroy Gray made such a request. The lesser part of me was still pissed I had said yes, and I didn't even know why. Chapter Two The Santa Anas were blowing fierce that dull fall afternoon I drove to Century City to see Jim. It has been a relatively uneventful season. Summer came and went and except for the usual two weeks in August, it hadn't melted any asphalt. No riots, no big celebrity murder trials, no earthquakes and only a half dozen car chases. A mundane Los Angeles summer.     The Santa Anas don't come every year, but when they do, they churn up the sky like sharks to chum-infested waters. It's not the only thing they stir up.     September isn't the month most people would choose to be here. Some call it Indian Summer, those days that hang on in a desperate attempt to fend off fall, only it's like a gene is missing and the result is some mutant form of summer and fall, with a whole new heat of its own.     The Santa Anas have a lot to do with this, dragging thick, hot winds across the Southland with such ferocity, they seem to pick up every free particle that's not nailed down. It makes for some uncomfortable weather, the kind that gets up your nose, into your eyes and underneath your skin. There's a theory, too, that it makes people do crazy things. Like they needed any help.     We were heading for October with no sign of the Santa Anas and everyone was hoping they'd stay away this year. But I could hear the roar of the wind outside my open bedroom window just before sunrise and when I finally crawled out of bed, the back of my throat was raw and hoarse.     It seemed like a bad omen to me. I have this thing about omens and even as I made the short drive to Jim's high-rise office building, I felt a queasiness in the pit of my stomach.     I turned my radio up trying to drown out my inner voice with some Lucinda Williams country kick-ass, but it wasn't working. Even the scars on my chest from where they'd removed my cancerous lung eighteen months ago were starting to itch.     Jim's office was on the upper floors of a forty story building, a monument of glass and steel that reflected the daily Southern California sunshine as if it was trying to send it back to its source.     I parked the Alfa in the massive parking garage that covers three or four city blocks under Century City. It was built on what used to be a part of the Twentieth Century Fox lot back when studios owned movie stars and not vice versa. I hoped I'd be able to find it when I got back.     I strolled into the sterile lobby with the late-morning stragglers and visitors and seeing an open elevator door, quickened to beat it shut. I knew at least one person saw me hurry to make the elevator, because I locked eyes with him as the doors closed, leaving me alone in the massive lobby.     His shrug meant my feelings of dread were founded. Any other day, he would have held the door one more second. But the Santa Anas were back and like the moon and bad seafood, they made people turn on themselves. As if all the silt and debris they blew up were ominous harbingers of things to come, as if the very wind was a carrier of evil.     I was cursing them the whole thirty-nine floor ride up the next elevator to Jim's office suite. * * * The doors opened into the wood-paneled splendor that is home to J. L. Gray, Attorney-at-law. It's pretty fancy digs for a guy who represents people like me. But that's just one of Jim's many contradictions.     A former cop, Jim drinks with us at Father's Office, as comfortable belly-up to the bar as the neighborhood drunks and yet as a lawyer, he can tear apart a witness with the conscience of an office shredder.     Jim's a deeply private man who looks for answers inside himself and finds strength in the singularity of his own soul and the certainty it will get him through the night. I don't quite understand this in him, but I know I share some of the same qualities and while his mysterious nature irritates me, I still find it admirable.     Born in Minnesota and raised in Santa Monica, Jim is part Dakota Indian, a bloodline he can trace back to the Battle of Little Bighorn.     We've known each other for years. My friend and sometime partner Bobo introduced us back when we were all still living up in San Francisco. Jim was a cop, working the streets of San Francisco and going to night school.     He migrated south before we did and got a job with the LAPD while he was finishing up Law School at UCLA. He was the one who introduced me to Father's Office, my local pub. But times have changed and outside my occasional visits to his office, we don't see each other much anymore.     He's always been my lawyer but sooner or later many of my clients end up knocking on his door too. Particularly here in LA where despite popular opinion, people would rather the scandal of the moment be someone else's problem.     I walked the fifteen feet from the elevator to the main reception desk across a wood floor so well polished you could probably ice skate on it, staring at my disheveled reflection on the floor. Long kinky hair, baseball cap, blue jeans, boots and leather jacket--LA practiced casual. A few more years and I'd pass for a native.     I smiled at the receptionist, a woman named Betty who doesn't like me. I think it has a little to do with my appearance, but mostly she's like a lot of people who find my profession distasteful. Most days I don't disagree.     I walked up to her desk and started to speak, but she cut me off.     "One moment, Ms. Moses," she said, not even bothering to look up at me. I'd been snubbed. "If you'll just have a seat ..."     "I'd rather stand," I said, immediately feeling like an idiot for being so petty. "I'm sure it won't be a long wait."     "Suit yourself," she said, and returned to her phone, computer, a pile of mail and her cup of coffee. Her own private dominion.     The wait was longer than expected. It was a good twenty minutes before his paralegal, a skinny kid in a blue suit and an earring named Myron, came out to take me back to see Jim.     The hallway opened up to a small divided office with two desks, one for his secretary and one for Myron, who left me at the open doorway to Jim's office.     He was on the phone, but he beckoned me inside. It was a big room, with a bookshelf on each side, a leather couch, a wet bar in the corner and a floor-to-ceiling window that offered a view that on those rare crystal days could reach halfway across the city. This wasn't one of them. The blue sky was more gray than blue, more cloudy than clear. The Santa Anas would change this. Tomorrow I was betting you could see Catalina, maybe even Japan from here.     Next to that window, Jim's desk was the most dominant object in the room. It's massive oak top was carved out of one big tree and was misshapen, almost angular. It was wider by a foot or more on one end, more narrow on the other.     It's not a lawyer's desk but it fits Jim perfectly. He doesn't look like a big-city lawyer, not in his soft denim shirt, bolo tie and smooth khaki slacks that have the sharpest crease I've ever seen. Like he'd used a steamroller for an iron.     His shirt sleeves were rolled up to just below his elbows, showing tanned, muscled arms. He wasn't very tall, six feet with shoes on, but he was solid, carrying his even 200 pounds as if every ounce had a perfect place on his body. His hair was blue black, cropped close to his head and styled with mousse--his only nod to current fashion--so it stood up in places.     "Sorry," he said again, wiping his face with both hands. "Pull up a chair, Zen. We need to talk."     There were two big leather chairs in front of his desk and it was only then I noticed someone was sitting in one of them. It was Bobo.     He nodded at me as I sat down.     Bobo's the kind of person whose presence can dominate a room or disappear into the walls. He was a good four or five inches taller than Jim, built like a mountain but with wide shoulders and legs like redwoods.     He's my mentor, my sometime partner, my savior, my soulmate, my friend and a hundred other things for which there are no names. Our relationship is complex, still being molded, yet never changing. Its base is as solid as Jim's desk. I like to think we keep honor and loyalty from going the way of the dinosaur.     There is no one, not even my beloved Uncle Sam, who I love more deeply or trust more completely. Most people think Bobo shows very little emotion and the truth is that the burden of having spent his life in often violent worlds has turned him inside himself.     But to say he's unemotional is to not understand him. He speaks a very fluent, rich language that is specific to only him and in our years together, I have learned how to read it.     Of West Indies descent mainly, Bobo La Douceur is a part of more cultures than he'd been able to keep track of, among them French Canadian, Cajun and Italian. He has deep brown skin, a beautiful angular face and two mismatched eyes, one hazel which makes sense with the rest of him. The other is deep-sea blue that would have stood out even if it didn't have the tendency to wander when he was tired.     He was wearing all black. Cargo pants, knitted turtleneck, black leather jacket and, as usual somewhere expertly hidden from the casual observer, he was well armed.     "What the hell are you doing here?"     "Nice to see you, too," he said.     Jim was watching us, a hint of bemusement in his eyes, which I noticed looked tired. I looked at my watch. It was barely 10 a.m. Already he looked like he'd put in a 12-hour day.     "You look like hell," I said, ignoring Bobo. "It's not even lunchtime."     He laughed, suddenly. A big, booming sound that would have scared the shit out of me if I didn't know better. It was one of Jim's endearing idiosyncrasies, that crazy laugh that bursts out of him at the most inappropriate moments. Like a Texas rancher, leaning against a split rail fence, laughing his ass off at the joke he's told a hundred times to half as many people.     "What's so funny?"     "You," he said. "You never mince words, do you?"     I shook my head. "Nope. So what am I--are we--doing here anyway?"     He laughed again but this time, got control of it faster, rubbed his eyes and reached onto the floor for a pile of folders I hadn't noticed before. He sifted through them, found what he was looking for and tossed a manila envelope across his desk.     The three of us stared at it as if it was a deadly spider. I don't know why, but I didn't want to look inside.     "I need a favor," he said.</anon> </opt>

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

In her second adventure (following Zen and the Art of Murder), Zen Moses, a rough-and-tumble private eye and cancer survivor, does a favor for an old friend (a cop-turned-lawyer) that lands her in deep trouble. Zen begins by locating a valuable stolen dog but winds up being framed for murder. Meanwhile, someone nearly kills Zen's friend, who's hiding a deep, dark secret. Adding insult to injury, a depressed neighborhood woman's suicidal escapade gets Zen shot. Despite her wound, Zen continues to investigate a way out of the frame. An action-filled plot, a tough but lovable heroine, and familiar LA settings recommend this to most collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Novelist Select